A Guide to The National Aviary’s Project Principalis Pages

Here are the links to the current relevant pages on the National Aviary website. There will likely be updates in the future. The preprint represents a very limited selection of the evidence gathered. These pages, and especially the sightings and sounds, bring the science to life.

About Project Principalis

Notes from the field, including sightings



Dr. Jay Tischendorf’s Article “The Lazarus Species”

Natural History


Tanner’s Study

Range and Distribution: This page and the links below may be revised in future, the first two because the ideas are evolving and/or there is new information.

Bark Scaling

Ivorybill Publications

Sighting Accounts Now Available On The National Aviary Website: Notes From The Field

A compendium of sightings in the area that starts with one of Frank’s from 2015 and one of mine from 2016 is now up on the National Aviary site. These are by no means the only sightings over the years; nor are these the only people to have had possible visual and/or auditory encounters in the area. Be sure to read them all.

My own “best” sighting was on October 27, 2021, several days into my first visit to the search area since Covid. It was a brief flyby, in silhouette, during a morning stake out of the tree we call “tree one”, where many of the trail cam images were taken and Don had his sighting. It is a tree I had staked out many times in late 2020 and early 2021, without seeing anything.

My first impression was long-necked, long-tailed duck. But I saw it tuck its wings, woodpecker style. No field marks but more than GISS.

Despite all my years of insisting the ivorybill was present in the area and my own sightings/possibles, especially the one that’s included on the Aviary site; despite all the acoustic encounters and evidence; and despite the trail cam images I had seen through that date, I still had some inner doubts. I no longer do.

Preprint Available: Multiple Lines of Evidence indicate the survival of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Louisiana

An announcement from the National Aviary and Project Principalis:

The National Aviary, along with Project Principalis, is delighted to announce that we have made available to the public the results to date of our search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. A paper titled, “Multiple lines of evidence indicate survival of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Louisiana” co-authored by Steven Latta, Mark Michaels, and eight other Project Principalis members and collaborators, can be viewed here. (Supplementary materials are at the upper right.) People who have been close to the search know that this is the result of many years of effort by Project Coyote, followed by several more years of intensive field work by the National Aviary and Project Principalis.

More details are available on the National Aviary’s Project Principalis pages, and there should be some updates soon.

A personal note: Frank Wiley and I met in 2008 and shared a vision. We were about as different as could be culturally, but we found common ground in the ivorybill. Most of all, we both recognized J.J. Kuhn’s importance in the saga and tried to figure out what Kuhn knew. Frank befriended Edith Kuhn Whitehead and made it possible for me to meet her in person shortly before her death. He cared deeply about nature and was generous in helping kids with an interest. He educated me too. He drove me crazy sometimes, and I’m sure the reverse is true. We loved each other like brothers. I wish he were here for this.

It has been a long, hard struggle to reach this point. and I don’t know how things will develop from here. The preprint is already making an impact. I hope it changes the discourse.

This is not a peer-reviewed publication. The peer review process is protracted, and we deemed it better to make these findings public now. It affords an opportunity to receive constructive, scientific feedback while adding to the record. We hope the process will strengthen the paper. The work is ongoing.